Plans for SA Taizé Meeting Gather Pace
The deadline to register for the international Taizé Meeting taking place in Cape Town in September is approaching fast, and preparations are gathering pace.
The Taizé Pilgrimage of Trust is expected to draw 4000-5000 participants from September 25-29.
The big task for the preparation team of the Taizé Brothers in Cape Town is to mobilise young people across the country to register, with the deadline for registration on July 21.
Local young adults aged 18 to 35 will be joined by others from Africa and abroad — but the Brothers have found that motivating young adults to commit for these days of prayer and encounter has proven to be a more difficult task than finding families to host pilgrims from outside Cape Town.
“As elsewhere in the world, a growing share of Cape Town youth tend to move away from Church practice after confirmation,” Br Luc Bourgoin noted.
“The recited prayer, the rites, the sermons, seem to restrain an aspiration to individual fulfilment.
“The practice of sport, of music, studies, entertainment, media, become the fields where young adults invest more and more of their time and where they soon start looking for the meaning of their existence,” he said.
However, the Taizé Brothers believe that the originality of the September Pilgrimage of Trust, with its popular, international and ecumenical dimensions, will stimulate the interest of some.
“Many are aware of the challenges young people are facing: access to education, to employment, commitment to family life, adherence to the faith, and so on. Meeting and sharing, in the field, with people who have gone through challenges and who serve others in different ways can inspire the young participants,” Br Luc said.
More than 400 participants have registered from around 20 African countries.
In Nairobi, Kenya, a group of young people meets each month for a moment of prayer and sharing. They support each other in their efforts to save money for their flight.
In Madagascar, students organised food sales to make ends meet.
A hundred young Europeans are also preparing to attend.
South African visa fees have been waived for those to whom they apply.
Many of the pilgrims will come ahead of the days of the meeting to attend an immersion programme in a community not far from Cape Town.
Some 80 local churches of various denominations have committed to offer hospitality to participants. In each host parish, a team collects accommodation offers from families, who have responded generously.
“We shall continue to journey with the host churches until September and we have good hope that all participants will be accommodated in a family,” Br Luc said.
To continue trying to reach young people and invite them, several preparation teams are phoning those who have been confirmed in the last ten years. Parents are also requested to spread the word.
On social media Taizé is also advertising for volunteers at the central venue — St Joseph’s College in Rondebosch — for several tasks, such as meal distribution, ushering participants, security marshals, welcome briefing, choir, the workshops facilitation, medical assistance, and so on.
Other opportunities include: promoting and empowering young adults, reviving a local group, and presenting another image of the neighbourhoods.
The Brothers want to show that in Manenberg for example, there is more than just drugs and gang fighting.
“There are also people who live, who build and love their community,” Br Luc noted.
“Things are often laborious, yet the miracle of a benevolent welcome within a bruised humanity is renewed at each meeting. To celebrate, Sunday after Sunday, the faith, which makes us live in-depth, reminds us of our common foundation. It fuels gratitude and renews our energy,” Br Luc said.